From the bestselling author of Life Inside the Bubble and Protecting the President.
In January 2008, Arlen Specter, then the senior senator from Pennsylvania, ran into Carl Hulse on Capitol Hill, a New York Times congressional reporter. The pair discussed the upcoming Super Bowl, which would pit the undefeated New York Giants against the mighty New England Patriots. The senator expressed a concern about the NFL’s lightning-quick investigation of “Spygate,” and in particular its destruction of tapes and notes from meetings between the league’s investigators and the Patriots. Twice during the previous few months, Specter had written letters to commissioner Roger Goodell asking for additional information about the scandal—and had received no response.
For years, Spygate became the subject of countless Fox News segments and talk-radio rants, viral right-wing tweets and Facebook posts, and congressional hearings. It spawned Justice Department investigations and investigations of those investigations. It inspired a cottage industry of conspiracy theories that even President Trump embraced as true.
But now, three years on from the initial allegation that a clandestine Democratic plot to spy on Donald Trump’s campaign was underway, it appears to be losing steam. A highly anticipated Justice Department inspector general’s report has so far failed to substantiate the lurid claims of its believers, and a probe into whether Obama-era officials improperly unmasked the identities of people involved in intelligence documents also appears to have gone nowhere. The fizzle may be related to the fact that Spygate’s progenitors—who once seemed to have the wind at their backs—are now in a position where they might not even get their preferred outcome.